Page images
[ocr errors]

a disgrace, and such an odious charge? Saith he, preparations made it appear more fearful. Better “ If it be well weighed, to say that a man lieth, is saith he, “ qui finem vitæ extremum inter munera as much as to say, that he is brave towards God, ponit naturæ." It is as natural to die, as to be and a coward towards men. For a lie faces God, born ; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as and shrinks from man.” Surely the wickedness of painful as the other. He that dies in an earnest falsehood, and breach of faith, cannot possibly be pursuit, is like one that is wounded in hot blood; so highly expressed, as in that it shall be the last who, for the time, scarce feels the hurt; and therepeal to call the judgments of God upon the genera- fore a mind fixt and bent upon somewhat that is tions of men : it being foretold, that when Christ good, doth avert the dolours of death : but above cometh " he shall not find faith upon the earth.” all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is, “ Nunc di

mittis ;" when a man hath obtained worthy ends II. OF DEATH.

and expectations. Death hath this also; that it

openeth the gate to good fame, and extinguisheth Men fear death, as children fear to go in the envy. -“ Extinctus amabitur idem." dark : and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other. Certainly, the

III. OF UNITY IN RELIGION. contemplation of death, as the wages of sin, and passage to another world, is holy and religious; Religion being the chief band of human society, but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto nature, is it is a happy thing, when itself is well contained weak. Yet in religious meditations, there is some within the true band of unity. The quarrels and times mixture of vanity and of superstition. You divisions about religion were evils unknown to the shall read in some of the friars' books of mortifica- heathen. The reason was, because the religion of tion, that a man should think with himself, what the heathen consisted rather in rites and ceremothe pain is, if he have but his finger's end pressed nies, than in any constant belief. For you may or tortured; and thereby imagine what the pains of imagine what kind of faith theirs was, when the death are, when the whole body is corrupted and chief doctors and fathers of their church were the dissolved ; when

many times death passeth with less poets. But the true God hath this attribute, that pain than the torture of a limb: for the most vital he is a jealous God; and therefore his worship and parts are not the quickest of sense. And by him religion will endure no mixture nor partner. We that spake only as a philosopher, and natural man, shall therefore speak a few words concerning the it was well said, “ Pompa mortis magis terret, quam unity of the church : what are the fruits thereof; mors ipsa.” Groans, and convulsions, and a dis- what the bounds; and what the means. coloured face, and friends weeping, and blacks, and The fruits of unity, next unto the well-pleasing of obsequies, and the like, show death terrible. It is God, which is all in all, are two; the one towards worthy the observing, that there is no passion in those that are without the church; the other tothe mind of man so weak, but it mates and masters wards those that are within. For the former; it is the fear of death : and therefore death is no such certain, that heresies and schisms are of all others terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants the greatest scandals; yea more than corruption of about him, that can win the combat of him. Re manners. For as in the natural body, a wound, or venge triumphs over death ; love slights it; honour solution of continuity, is worse than a corrupt aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear pre-occupateth humour; so in the spiritual. So that nothing doth it; nay, we read, after Otho the emperor had slain so much keep men out of the church, and drive himself, pity, which is the tenderest of affections, men out of the church, as breach of unity) and provoked many to die, out of mere compassion to therefore, whensoever it cometh to that pass, that their sovereign, and as the truest sort of followers. one saith, “ ecce in deserto ;” another saith, Nay, Seneca adds, niceness and satiety ; " cogita in penetralibus;" that is, when some men seek Christ quamdiu eadem feceris; mori velle, non tantum in the conventicles of heretics, and others in an outfortis, aut miser, sed etiam fastidiosus potest.” Award face of a church, that voice had need conman would die, though he were neither valiant nor tinually to sound in men's ears, “ nolite exire," go miserable, only upon a weariness to do the same not out. The doctor of the gentiles, the propriety thing so oft over and over. It is no less worthy to of whose vocation drew him to have a special care observe, how little alteration in good spirits the ap- of those without, saith ; " If a heathen come in, proaches of death make; for they appear to be the and hear you speak with several tongues, will he not same men till the last instant. Augustus Cæsar say that you are mad?” And certainly it is little died in a compliment; “ Livia, conjugii nostri me- better, when atheists, and profane persons, do hear mor vive, et vale." Tiberius in dissimulation, as of so many discordant and contrary opinions in reliTacitus saith of him ; “ Jam Tiberium vires et cor- gion; it doth avert them from the church, and pus, non dissimulatio, deserebant.” Vespasian in a maketh them “ to sit down in the chair of the jest, sitting upon the stool; “ Ut puto, deus fio." scorners.” It is but a light thing to be vouched in Galba with a sentence; “ Feri, si ex re sit populi so serious a matter, but yet it expresseth well the Romani ;" holding forth his neck. Septimius deformity : there is a master of scoffing; that in his Severus in despatch; “ Adeste, si quid mihi restat catalogue of books of a feigned library sets down agendum;" and the like. Certainly the Stoics be- this title of a book ; “ The Morris-dance of Herestowed too much cost upon death, and by their great tiques." For indeed every sect of them hath a


diverse posture or cringe by themselves, which can the one, when the peace is grounded but upon an not but move derision in worldlings and depraved implicit ignorance ; for all colours will agree in the politics, who are apt to contemn holy things. dark : the other, when it is pieced up upon a direct

As for the fruit towards those that are within, it admission of contraries in fundamental points. For is peace; which containeth infinite blessings : it truth and falsehood, in such things, are like the iron establisheth faith; it kindleth charity; the outward and clay in the toes of Nebuchadnezzar's image ; peace of the church distilleth into peace of con- they may cleave, but they will not incorporate. science; and it turneth the labours of writing and Concerning the means of procuring unity; men reading of controversies into treatises of mortification must beware, that in the procuring or muniting of and devotion.

religious unity, they do not dissolve and deface the Concerning the bounds of unity; the true placing laws of charity, and of human society. There be of them importeth exceedingly. There appear to be two swords amongst christians, the spiritual and temtwo extremes. For to certain zealots all speech of poral ; and both have their due office and place in pacification is odious. “ Is it peace, Jehu ? What the maintenance of religion. But we may not take hast thou to do with peace ? turn thee behind me." up the third sword, which is Mahomet's sword, or Peace is not the matter, but following the party. like unto it; that is, to propagate religion by wars, or Contrariwise, certain Laod ceans, and lukewarm by sanguinary persecutions to force consciences ; expersons, think they may accommodate points of recept it be in cases of overt scandal, blasphemy, or ligion by middle ways, and taking part of both, and intermixture of practice against the state ; much witty reconcilements; as if they would make an ar less to nourish seditions ; to authorize conspiracies bitrement between God and man. Both these ex and rebellions; to put the sword into the people's tremes are to be avoided ; which will be done, if hands, and the like, tending to the subversion of all the league of christians, penned by our Saviour government, which is the ordinance of God. For himself, were, in the two cross clauses thereof, this is but to dash the first table against the second ; soundly and plainly expounded : "he that is not with and so to consider men as christians, as we forget us is against us :" and again," he that is not against that they are men. Lucretius the poet, when he us is with us :" that is, if the points fundamental, beheld the act of Agamemnon, that could endure the and of substance, in religion, were truly discerned sacrificing of his own daughter, exclaimed ; and distinguished from points not merely of faith, but of opinion, order, or good intention. This is a

“Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.” thing may seem to many a matter trivial, and done What would he have said, if he had known of the already ; but if it were done less partially, it would massacre in France, or the powder-treason of Engbe embraced more generally.

land ? He would have been seven times more epicure Of this I may give only this advice, according to and atheist than he was : for as the temporal sword my small model. Men ought to take heed of rend is to be drawn with great circumspection, in cascs ing God's church by two kinds of controversies. of religion ; so it is a thing monstrous to put it into The one is, when the matter of the point controverted the hands of the common people. Let that be left is too small and light, not worth the heat and strife unto the anabaptists, and other furies. It was great about it, kindled only by contradiction. For as it is blasphemy, when the devil said, “ I will ascend, and noted by one of the fathers, Christ's coat indeed had be like the Highest ;” but it is greater blasphemy no seam; but the church's vesture was of divers to personate God, and bring him in saying, “ I will colours : whereupon he saith, “in veste varietas sit, descend, and be like the prince of darkness.” And scissura non sit;" they be two things, unity, and what is it better to make the cause of religion to deuniformity. The other is, when the matter of the scend to the cruel and execrable actions of murtherpoint controverted is great; but it is driven to an ing princes, butchery of people, and subversion of over-great subtilty and obscurity ; so that it becom states and governments ? Surely, this is to bring eth a thing rather ingenious than substantial. A down the Holy Ghost, instead of the likeness of a man that is of judgment and understanding, shall dove, in the shape of a vulture or raven ; and to set, sometimes hear ignorant men differ, and know well out of the bark of a christian church, a flag of a bark within himself, that those which so differ mean one of pirates and assassins. Therefore it is most necesthing, and yet they themselves would never agree. sary, that the church by doctrine and decree ; And if it come so to pass in that distance of judgment princes by their sword; and all learnings, both which is between man and man, shall we not think christian and moral, as by their mercury rod ; do that God above, that knows the heart, doth not discern damn and send to hell for ever those facts and opinthat frail men, in some of their contradictions, intend ions, tending to the support of the same; as hath the same thing, and accepteth of both ? The nature been already in good part done. Surely in counsels of such controversies is excellently expressed by St. concerning religion, that counsel of the apostle Paul, in the warning and precept that he giveth con would be prefixed ; “ Ira hominis non implet justicerning the same; "devita profanas vocum novita tiam Dei.” And it was a notable observation of a tes, et oppositiones falsi nominis scientiæ.” Men wise father, and no less ingenuously confessed ; create oppositions which are not; and put them into That those which held and persuaded pressure of new terms so fixed, as whereas the meaning ought consciences, were commonly interested therein themto govern the term, the term in effect governeth the selves for their own ends. meaning. There be also two false peaces or unities;


magnum, habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem IV. REVENGE.

Dei.” This would have done better in poesy, where

transcendencies are more allowed. And the poets Revenge is a kind of wild justice, which the more indeed have been busy with it; for it is in effect man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed the thing which is figured in that strange fiction of it out. For as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without the law; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the mystery ; nay, and to have some approach to the law out of office. Certainly in taking revenge, a state of a christian : that Hercules, when he went man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it to unbind Prometheus, by whom human nature is over, he is superior: for it is a prince's part to par- represented, sailed the length of the great ocean in don. And Solomon, I am sure, saith, “ It is the an earthen pot or pitcher; lively describing chrisglory of a man to pass by an offence.” That which tian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the is past is gone and irrevocable, and wise men have flesh through the waves of the world. But to speak enough to do with things present and to come : in a mean : the virtue of prosperity is temperance; therefore they do but trifle with themselves that the virtue of adversity is fortitude ; which in molabour in past matters. There is no man doth a rals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the wrong for the wrong's sake; but thereby to pur- blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the chase himself profit, or pleasure, or honour, or the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater like. Therefore why should I be angry with a man benediction, and the clearer revelation of God's fafor loving himself better than me? And if any man Yet, even in the Old Testament, if you listen should do wrong, merely out of ill-nature, why ? yet to David's harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like it is but like the thorn or brier, which prick or airs as carols : and the pencil of the Holy Ghost scratch, because they can do no other. The most hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not there is no law to remedy: but then let a man take without many fears and distastes; and adversity is heed the revenge be such as there is no law to not without comforts and hopes. We see in needlepunish; else a man's enemy is still beforehand, and works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, than are desirous the party should know whence it com to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lighteth: this is the more generous; for the delight some ground : judge therefore of the pleasure of the seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt, as in heart by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue making the party repent : but base and crafty cow is like precious odours, most fragrant when they ards are like the arrow that flieth in the dark. are incensed or crushed; for prosperity doth best Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue. against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable. “ You shall read,"

VI. OF SIMULATION AND DISSIMULATION. saith he, “ that we are commanded to forgive our enemies; but you never read, that we are commanded Dissimulation is but a faint kind of policy, or to forgive our friends.” But yet the spirit of Job wisdom ; for it asketh a strong wit, and a strong was in a better tune; “ Shall we,” saith he, “ take heart, to know when to tell truth, and to do it. good at God's hands, and not be content to take Therefore it is the weaker sort of politicians that evil also ?” And so of friends in a proportion. are the great dissemblers. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge, Tacitus saith, Livia sorted well with the arts of keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would her husband, and dissimulation of her son ; attributheal, and do well. Public revenges are for the ing arts or policy to Augustus, and dissimulation to most part fortunate: as that for the death of Cæsar; Tiberius. And again, when Mucianus encourageth for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry Vespasian to take arms against Vitellius, he saith; the Third of France; and many more: but in pri- We rise not against the piercing judgment of Augusvate revenges it is not so ; nay rather, vindictive tus, nor the extreme caution or closeness of Tiberius. persons live the life of witches; who as they are These properties of arts or policy, and dissimulation mischievous, so end they unfortunate.

or closeness, are indeed habits and faculties several

and to be distinguished. For if a man have that V. OF ADVERSITY.

penetration of judgment as he can discern what

things are to be laid open, and what to be secreted, It was an high speech of Seneca, after the man and what to be showed at half-lights, and to whom ner of the Stoics, that the good things which belong and when, which indeed are arts of state, and arts to prosperity are to be wished, but the good things of life, as Tacitus well calleth them, to him a habit that belong to adversity are to be admired : “ Bona of dissimulation is a hinderance and a poorness. rerum secundarum optabilia, adversarum mirabilia.” But if a man cannot obtain to that judgment, then Certainly, if miracles be the command over nature, it is left to him, generally, to be close and a dissemthey appear most in adversity. It is yet a higher bler. For where a man cannot choose, or vary in speech of his than the other, much too high for a particulars, there it is good to take the safest and heathen, It is true greatness to have in one the wariest way in general; like the going softly by one frailty of a man, and the security of a God : “ Vere that cannot well see. Certainly the ablest men that

[ocr errors]

ever were, have had all an openness and frankness | disguise, it maketh him practise simulation in other of dealing, and a name of certainty and veracity ; things lest his hand should be out of ure. but then they were like horses well managed; for The great advantages of simulation and dissimulathey could tell passing well when to stop or turn: tion are three. First, to lay asleep opposition, and and at such times, when they thought the case in to surprise. For where a man's intentions are pubdeed required dissimulation, if then they used it, it lished, it is an alarm to call up all that are against came to pass, that the former opinion spread abroad them. The second is, to reserve to a man's self a of their good faith and clearness of dealing made fair retreat: for if a man engage himself by a manithem almost invisible.

fest declaration, he must go through, or take a fall. There be three degrees of this hiding and veiling The third is, the better to discover the mind of anof a man's self. The first, closeness, reservation, other. For to him that opens himself, men will and secrecy, when a man leaveth himself without hardly show themselves adverse ; but will fain let observation, or without hold to be taken, what he is. him go on, and turn their freedom of speech to freeThe second, dissimulation in the negative, when a dom of thought. And therefore it is a good shrewd man lets fall signs and arguments, that he is not proverb of the Spaniard, Tell a lie and find a truth ; that he is. And the third, simulation in the affirm as if there were no way of discovery but by simuative, when a man industriously and expressly feignslation. There be also three disadvantages to set and pretends to be that he is not.

it even. The first, that simulation and dissimuFor the first of these, secrecy ; it is indeed the lation commonly carry with them a show of fearvirtue of a confessor ; and assuredly the secret man fulness, which in any business doth spoil the feathers heareth many confessions ; for who will open him- of round flying up to the mark. The second, that self to a blab or a babbler ? but if a man be thought it puzzleth and perplexeth the conceits of many, secret, it inviteth discovery; as the more close air that perhaps would otherwise co-operate with him; sucketh in the more open: and as in confession the and makes a man walk almost alone to his own revealing is not for worldly use, but for the ease of ends. The third and greatest is, that it depriveth a man's heart; so secret men come to knowledge of a man of one of the most principal instruments for many things in that kind; while men rather dis action ; which is trust and belief. The best comcharge their minds, than impart their minds. In position and temperature is, to have openness in few words, mysteries are due to secrecy. Besides, fame and opinion; secrecy in habit; dissimulation to say truth, nakedness is uncomely as well in mind in seasonable use ; and a power to feign, if there be as body; and it addeth no small reverence to men's no remedy. manners and actions if they be not altogether open. As for talkers and futile persons, they are commonly VII. OF PARENTS AND CHILDREN. vain and credulous withal. For he that talketh what he knoweth, will also talk what he knoweth The joys of parents are secret; and so are their not. Therefore set it down, that a habit of se- griefs and fears: they cannot utter the one, nor crecy is both politic and moral. And in this part it they will not utter the other. Children sweeten is good that a man's face give his tongue leave to labours ; but they make misfortunes more bitter ; speak. For the discovery of a man's self by the they increase the cares of life, but they mitigate the tracts of his countenance is a great weakness and remembrance of death. The perpetuity by generabetraying; by how much it is many times more tion is common to beasts ; but memory, merit, and marked and believed than a man's words.

noble works, are proper to men: and surely a man For the second, which is dissimulation ; it follow- shall see the noblest works and foundations have eth many times upon secrecy, by a necessity: so proceeded from childless men; which have sought that he that will be secret must be a dissembler in to express the images of their minds, where those some degree. For men are too cunning to suffer a of their bodies have failed: so the care of posterity man to keep an indifferent carriage between both, is most in them that have no posterity. They and to be secret, without swaying the balance on that are the first raisers of their houses, are most either side. They will so beset a man with ques- indulgent towards their children; beholding them tions, and draw him on, and pick it out of him, that, as the continuance, not only of their kind, but of without an absurd silence, he must show an inclina- their work; and so both children and creatures. tion one way; or if he do not, they will gather as The difference in affection of parents towards their much by his silence as by his speech. As for equi- several children is many times unequal; and somevocations, or oraculous speeches, they cannot hold times unworthy; especially in the mother; as Soloout long. So that no man can be secret, except mon saith, “A wise son rejoiceth the father, but an he give himself a little scope of dissimulation, ungracious son shames the mother.” A man shall which is as it were but the skirts or train of secrecy. see, where there is a house full of children, one or

But for the third degree, which is simulation two of the eldest respected, and the youngest made and false profession; that I hold more culpable and wantons ; but in the midst, some that are as it were less politic, except it be in great and rare matters. forgotten, who many times nevertheless prove the And therefore a general custom of simulation, which best. The illiberality of parents in allowance tois this last degree, is a vice rising either of a natu- wards their children, is a harmful error; makes ral falseness, or fearfulness, or of a mind that hath them base; acquaints them with shifts; makes some main faults; which because a man must needs them sort with mean company; and makes them

surfeit more when they come to plenty: and there- | in mind of their wives and children. And I think fore the proof is best when men keep their authority the despising of marriage amongst the Turks, maketh towards their children, but not their purse. Men the vulgar soldiers more base. Certainly, wife and have a foolish manner, both parents, and schoolmas- children are a kind of discipline of humanity; and ters, and servants, in creating and breeding an emu- single men, though they be many times more lation between brothers, during childhood, which charitable, because their means are less exhaust; many times sorteth to discord when they are men, yet, on the other side, they are more cruel and hardand disturbeth families. The Italians make little hearted, good to make severe inquisitors, because difference between children and nephews, or near their tenderness is not so oft called upon. Grave kinsfolks; but so they be of the lump they care not, natures, led by custom, and therefore constant, are though they pass not through their own body. And, commonly loving husbands; as was said of Ulysses, to say truth, in nature it is much a like matter; vetulam suam prætulit immortalitati.” Chaste insomuch that we see a nephew sometimes resem women are often proud and froward, as presuming bleth an uncle, or a kinsman, more than his own upon the merit of their chastity. It is one of the parent; as the blood happens. Let parents choose best bonds, both of chastity and obedience, in the betimes the vocations and courses they mean their wife, if she think her husband wise ; which she will children should take; for then the are most flexible; never do if she find him jealous. Wives are young and let them not too much apply themselves to the men's mistresses; companions for middle age; and disposition of their children, as thinking they will old men's nurses. So as a man may have a quarrel take best to that which they have most mind to. It to marry when he will. But yet he was reputed is true, that if the affection or aptness of the chil one of the wise men, that made answer to the quesdren be extraordinary, then it is good not to cross it; tion, when a man should marry ? “ A young man but generally the precept is good, “ Optimum elige, not yet, an elder man not at all.” It is often seen, suave et facile illud faciet consuetudo." Younger that bad husbands have very good wives; whether it brothers are commonly fortunate, but seldom or never be, that it raiseth the price of their husband's kindwhere the elder are disinherited.

ness when it comes; or that the wives take a pride

in their patience. But this never fails if the bad VIII. OF MARRIAGE AND SINGLE LIFE.

husbands were of their own choosing, against their

friends' consent; for then they will be sure to make He that hath wife and children, hath given good their own folly. hostages to fortune ; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.

IX. OF ENVY. Certainly the best works and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or There be none of the affections which have been childless men; which, both in affection and means, noted to fascinate or bewitch, but love and envy. have married and endowed the public. Yet it were They both have vehement wishes; they frame themgreat reason, that those that have children should selves readily into imaginations and suggestions : have greatest care of future times; unto which they and they come easily into the eye; especially upon know they must transmit their dearest pledges the presence of the objects; which are the points Some there are, who though they lead a single life, that conduce to fascination, if any such thing there yet their thoughts do end with themselves, and ac be. We see likewise, the Scripture calleth envy an count future times impertinences. Nay, there are evil eye: and the astrologers call the evil influences of some other, that account wife and children but as the stars, evil aspects; so that still there seemeth to bills of charges. Nay more, there are some foolish be acknowledged in the act of envy, an ejaculation, rich covetous men, that take a pride in having no or irradiation of the eye. Nay, some have been so children, because they may be thought so much the curious, as to note, that the times when the stroke richer. For perhaps they have heard some talk, or percussion of an envious eye doth most hurt, are, Such a one is a great rich man; and another ex when the party envied is beheld in glory or triumph ; cept to it, Yea, but he hath a great charge of child for that sets an edge upon envy: and, besides, at dren: as if it were an abatement to his riches. But such times, the spirits of the person envied do the most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty; come forth most into the outward parts, and so meet especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous the blow. minds, which are so sensible of every restraint, as But leaving these curiosities, though not unworthy they will go near to think their girdles and garters to be thought on in fit place, we will handle, what to be bonds and shackles. Unmarried men are best persons are apt to envy others; what persons are friends, best masters, best servants, but not always most subject to be envied themselves; and what is best subjects; for they are light to run away; and the difference between public and private envy. almost all fugitives are of that condition. A single A man that hath no virtue in himself, ever envieth life doth well with churchmen: for charity will virtue in others. For men's minds will either feed hardly water the ground, where it must first fill a pool. upon their own good, or upon others' evil; and who It is indifferent for judges and magistrates: for if wanteth the one, will prey upon the other : and they be facile and corrupt, you shall have a servant whoso is out of hope to attain to another's virtue, will five times worse than a wife. For soldiers, I find seek to come at even hand by depressing another's the generals commonly, in their hortatives, put men fortune.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »